In this chapter the development of European integration theory, its roots, development, and the current state of the debate, is examined. The chapter presents a critical overview of the key theoretical approaches to the study of European integration. It concludes with the argument that the insights emerging from contemporary studies of the governance of the EU might usefully be employed to enhance current attempts to conceptualise the integration process.
During the Second World War and in its immediate aftermath, many scholars sought to elaborate a new type of political system which would facilitate co-operation between nations and the preservation of international (or at least Europe-wide) peace. Some theorists focused on the desirable end product of this co-operation (for example federalism and functionalism), while others focused on the background conditions which would be required for the establishment of a new transnational political community (for example, the transactionalist/communications school). Each, in their own way, contributed to the elaboration of later neo-functionalist attempts to explain the emerging process of European integration begun, in practice, with the establishment of the European Coal and Steel Community in 1951.
For many scholars and politicians the potential solution to the conflict between European nations lay in the development of a European federation of nations. Throughout the Second World War, there were many references to the peace-making potential of a European federal political structure. The federalist movement had strong roots in the European resistance movement, and even further back, for example, in the writings of Coudenhove-Kalergi (1923, 1934 and 1938). The development of the post-war federalist movement was championed by committed federalists such as Jean Monnet, Walter Hallstein and Altiero Spinelli (1966) who were to be disillusioned by the slow progress in Europe and the virtual abandonment of any attempt to create a true European federation. The end product of the European integration process was to fall far short of the ideals of these federalists. While